Kabataan, Gabriela Women’s Party insist disqualification cases ‘hold no water’

(Photo from Kabataan Partylist official Facebook page)

Through the years, the progressive party-lists under the Makabayan bloc have remained critical of government policies and other issues concerning the marginalized population. A number of the bills they authored and sponsored have become laws that benefit the Filipino people.

By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – A government agency known for red-tagging opposition personalities and groups filed petitions before the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in a bid to discredit the progressive party-lists.

The National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) filed a petition against Gabriela Women’s Party (GWP) in 2019, while a petition against Kabataan Partylist was filed last June.

Incumbent Kabataan Partylist Rep. Sarah Elago expressed her alarm in a media briefing at Comelec’s seemingly swift action on the cases.

“This is one of the biggest threats to the direct political participation of the Filipino youth. The Kabataan Party will not be able to run for next year’s election if this (petition) will not be rejected by the Comelec,” Elago said.

GWP meanwhile said that the petition is state-sponsored and aims to disenfranchise the marginalized women sector that they have represented for over 20 years.

GWP Rep. Arlene Brosas (Photo from GWP official Facebook page)

The NTF-ELCAC accused GWP of accepting foreign money to purportedly support the Communist Party of the Philippines – an accusation thrown against the Makabayan bloc since it joined the parliament. With this, the task force claims that the women’s partylist is violating the Constitution and the Comelec Rules of Procedures.

The group said that the NTF-ELCAC first filed the case before the Comelec and then before civil courts.

The task force cited Section 6 of the Party-list System Act that states that the Comelec, upon verified complaint of any interested party and due notice and hearing, may remove or cancel the registration of any national, regional or sectoral party, organization or coalition on the grounds of “advocating violence or unlawful means to seek goal.”

Meanwhile, the NTF-ELCAC accused the Kabataan Party-list of its “goal to destabilize the government.”

The group denied these claims saying that they have not advocated the crime of rebellion or the taking of arms against the government. They demand that the petition be dismissed immediately.

‘Voice of the marginalized’

Through the years, the progressive party-lists under the Makabayan bloc have remained critical of government policies and other issues concerning the marginalized population. A number of the bills they authored and sponsored have become laws that benefit the Filipino people.

Elago said that in the almost two decades of serving the Filipino people, Kabataaan Party-list pushed for the passage of Free Public Higher Education, Tertiary Education Subsidy, Free Public Internet Access, as well as Occupation Health and Safety Standards among others.

Read: ‘Historic victory’ | Youth groups call for vigilance as Duterte signs free college education law

She added that in its five terms, the youth party was able to craft and field 2,000 bills and resolutions.

The group’s first term was in 2007 with blogger and activist Raymond Palatino as first Kabataan Party-list Representative. Under his term, the youth partylist sought for the investigation of UP Graduation Program Tuition Hike, Smartmatic-TIM overpricing, the imposition of a new tax on imported reading materials, among others.

Kabataan Partylist’s distribution of goods. (Photo from Kabataan Partylist official Facebook page)

Read: Youth solon to Comelec: Explain new deals over PCOS machines, source code  

The Kabataan Party-list also pushed for the Free Special Education Bill, Anti-No Permit, No Exam Policy, SK Strengthening and Reform Act of 2009 and BPO Workers’ Welfare and Protection Act of 2009 among others.

Meanwhile in the 18th Congress, Elgao said Kabataan Party-list has filed more than 600 measures.

The GWP, on the other hand, also worked for the same measures.

Even before the GWP ran as a party-list in 2004, garnering enough votes for two seats in Congress, Liza Maza, one of the leaders of Gabriela National Alliance of Filipino Women, was one of the three representatives for Bayan Muna in the 12th Congress.

Maza was the principal author of RA 9208 or Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act and co-authored the Anti-Violence Against Women and Children Law.

The GWP is also the principal author of RA 9710 or the Magna Carta of Women, co-authored RA 9775 or Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2008, and pushed for the Reproductive Health Bill.

GWP also pushed for RA 11201 or the Expanded Maternity Leave Law in 2019 and principally authored amendments on the Anti-Sexual Harassment Law which was incorporated on the Safe Spaces Act. The GWP is also the principal author of RA 11058 or the Occupational Safety and Health Law in 2018.

Read: Expanded maternity leave bill, a win-win for mothers, babies, national economy 

They also conducted free legal consultation on violence against women and their children and other work-related cases.

From one representative in 2004, GWP was able to get enough votes in the succeeding elections to have two representatives in the lower house despite attacks against the group. Under President Duterte’s administration, several leaders of GWP were arrested and jailed on trumped up charges. Even with the intensifying attacks, GWP was still able to secure one seat in the 2019 national elections.

Read: How a women’s party has found its voice, pursued the rights and welfare of women in male-dominated Congress

At present, GWP Rep. Arlene Brosas is pushing for Anti-Electronic Violence Against Women and Children Law, Amendments to the Anti-Rape Law including the age for determination of statutory rape from 12 to 16 years old, Amendments to the Solo Parents Welfare Law and the Magna Carta for Child Development Workers, among others.

(Photo from GWP official Facebook page)

GWP is confident that the allegations against them will be debunked. However they reiterated that they still need the broadest range of support to counter what they call as “lies propagated by the government and its troll farms.”

The group said they will “not allow fake news and false accusations to tarnish our track record of genuine public service for women and the people.”

Elago reiterated that the petition against them is a clear mockery of the party-list system. “They only waste the people’s money and use their position for harassment and massive red-tagging of those who oppose the government’s anti-democratic policies.”

“The youth will not allow this,” she added. (RVO)  (https://www.bulatlat.com)

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